National Helpline

Introduction

This program was borne out of the suicide case of an ex-banker in one of the notable banks in Lagos. After being jilted by her lover, depression started settling in; she took her own life by hanging herself in 2011. Her suicide note read that she had no one to talk to during her various episodes of depression.

The resounding incidents of suicide in Nigeria has taken a new dimension; the young and old, male and female, rich and poor, literate and illiterate now derive joy in terminating their own lives for various reasons. Although many suicide cases are underreported due to stigma, some suicide cases result from mental illness such as the case of the ex-banker, while others may just be due to the mere fact that they had no one to talk to about their problems. In all, several cases of suicide could have been prevented through support services. Certain life situations such as: bereavement, stress, lack of sleep, use of drugs or alcohol, assault, abuse or accident can induce mental distress that could lead to suicidal thoughts.

The operations of the brain are very complex and entails management by every individual. However, when this effort proves ineffective; it is not out of place to seek professional help. Conversely, culture remains a very crucial resource or impediment in seeking help in Nigeria due to stigmatizing attitudes, values, beliefs and health behavioural patterns. In effect, some symptoms associated with mental distress such as stress, lack of sleep, assault and anxiety are not perceived as issues that call for professional attention. Thus a large number of people in emotional distress are not compelled to talk to people or seek help for fear of being stigmatised or neglected, while others don't realise they have a problem.

Intervention 

 

Early detection and treatment of mental health conditions have been shown to prevent mental ill-health from compounding and poor life outcomes from accumulating. The goal of this program is to provide a care and support anonymous line for people in mental distress and their families. Sometimes all it takes is a caring compassionate voice at the other end to listen, counsel, advice and direct without stigma or prejudice. National Helpline aims to have considerable positive impact on the psychological health and well-being of people throughout Nigeria as it cuts across ethnic, gender, age and socioeconomic groups.

A look at mental health across Africa